Friday, July 21, 2017

Continuation of the tree trimming program this past week with a large amount of material removed from the courses.  The pile below at the tree dump adjacent to 6R is 60 metres long and nearly 3 metres high and has been stacked tight with a front end loader tractor.  Still some more to go in the coming weeks but only the surface gets scratched this year in this never ending task.

Large pile of cuttings

We trialed a new model bunker raking machine that has a number of advantages over our current units that are due for replacement this financial year.  To rake the bunkers on one course properly takes 2 men about 4 hours depending on just how much repair work is required on the faces.  Given that members comps start at 6.30 am, with 2 tee starts on Wednesday and Saturdays, the bunkers are rarely raked "properly".  It is normally quite a rushed job to get done in front of the play and generally only one person starts the job and is then joined by other crew as they finish their other allocated tasks through the morning.  Prior to budget cuts over the past 5 years or so, bunkers were regularly raked up to six times a week but that is now down to two or three times maximum now.

Bunkers are probably the most contentious issue on a golf course and I doubt any golf club has got it "right" with their bunkers.  Whatever "right" is of course.  When we were raking six times a week more money was being allocated to bunker maintenance than putting green maintenance which is astounding when you consider that they are after all a hazard!!  More money being spent on bunkers than greens is a fairly common occurrence among other Course Supers that I speak with and bunkers are universally the most criticised aspect of golf courses.  There is not enough room here to espouse all the theories relating to bunker construction and maintenance so I might organise a course information session which hasn't been held for a few years now and where the topic of bunkers is always raised. 

The video below shows the trial unit in action.


Obviously this player didn't want to leave the surface as good as he found it although at least he picked the rake up to start with.  The photo was taken just an hour after the bunker was raked!! 
Please try and leave the course as you find it!!  

Perhaps the great Peter Thomson is right when he suggests that bunkers shouldn't be raked at all and if he had it his way "bunkers would be real hazards, a holy terror to get caught in and a frightening experience to get out of"!!  

And speaking of "five times" the video below is from his triumph at Royal Birkdale in 1954, the scene of this weeks Open Championship.  The first time I saw it I didn't have the volume on and was astounded to learn that his six inch back handed putt was to actually WIN!!!

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